The USC men’s volleyball team lost a heartbreaking match to No. 10 Pepperdine last Saturday evening.
After an embarrassing 0-3 loss to No. 2 crosstown rival UCLA, USC traveled to nearby Malibu to take on another Southern California team — Pepperdine University. The Waves boast a very impressive resume with an overall record of 7-3, including wins over ranked teams such as No. 4 UC Irvine and No. 14 Ball State. The Waves’ upset over the Anteaters prepared the team heading into their match against the Trojans.
Pepperdine played a near flawless game against Irvine, firing 13 aces and out-blocking Irvine 8-7.5. Pepperdine’s trio of outside hitters, junior David Wieczorek, senior Alex Harthaller and senior Colby Harriman, led the team. Wieczorek recorded a team-high 19 kills and three aces. Harthaller had 13 kills and three aces, while Harriman contributed with 10 kills and three aces. Junior middle blocker Max Chamberlain also had three aces of his own.
Against USC, Pepperdine’s same outside hitter triplet proved to be the difference. Wieczorek continued his remarkable hitting, slashing .371 with 18 kills and six digs. Harriman had 16 kills and five aces, and Harthaller went off for 10 kills, nine digs and four blocks. Chamberlain somewhat quietly had seven kills and six blocks while hitting .636. Sophomore outside hitter Noah Dyer and freshman Robert Mullahey each recorded four blocks and tallied 10 and eight digs, respectively.
USC was led by junior outside hitter Jack Wyett, who had a game-high 20 kills and seven digs. Junior outside hitter Gianluca Grasso was second with nine kills, 10 digs, three blocks and two aces, while junior middle blocker Connor Inglow had six kills and four blocks. Meanwhile, junior outside hitter Ryan Moss had an unusually poor performance with only five kills, two aces and two blocks.
For USC, this season is bordering on disaster. While the ranking committee previously gave them some leeway and took into account their brutal schedule, the Trojans are now completely out of the top 15. With upcoming games against No. 12 Grand Canyon, No. 13 UC Santa Barbara and No. 6 BYU, it doesn’t appear that the Trojans have a clear way out of their losing skid. The only hope is that head coach Jeff Nygaard can inspire his team and possibly make some adjustments to the team’s rotation in hopes of motivating his players. Otherwise, USC’s season may be all but over.